The Jets have some players who are not as good as they seem, while others fly under the radar
The New York Jets 2022 offseason is the most over-the-top, excitement-filled one that fans have seen since, well… last year’s, which saw the team build a new core around head coach Robert Saleh and new quarterback Zach Wilson.
Following a disappointing 4-13 campaign in 2021, general manager Joe Douglas has used every resource at his disposal to add talent to the squad. He brought in multiple top-end free agents and a universally praised draft class. As a result, the Jets appear to be in their best shape in close to a decade.
With praise, of course, also comes hype, and Jets fans are anything but strangers to hype.
With training camp finally beginning, it’s time to go over the Jets roster and see which players have garnered more hype than they may deserve, and which other players have, but shouldn’t be, forgotten about.
These are the most overrated and underrated Jets at each position.
Overrated: Mike White
“Miguel Blanco”, as he was dubbed by fans after shockingly upsetting the Bengals in Week 7, will always have a special place in Jets fans’ hearts, as well as in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
However, Mike White‘s Halloween miracle masked a couple of average outings and one absolute horror show.
The week before the Bengals game, after taking over for the injured Wilson in the second quarter of a lopsided loss to the Patriots, White completed 20 passes on 32 attempts for 202 yards, a single touchdown, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 64.8.
He played well against the Colts before sustaining an injury in the first quarter, but his next start, Week 9 against the Bills, was a complete disaster.
White completed 24 of his 44 passing attempts, a 54.6 completion percentage, for 251 yards, zero touchdowns, four interceptions, and a passer rating of 33.4. That’s worse than if he had just spiked the ball on each play.
Joe Flacco would take over the starting job the next week against the Dolphins. Zach Wilson returned from injury a week later against the Texans and would start the rest of the year.
Mike White was brilliant on that single October Sunday, but that brilliance just didn’t last. That is the impetus for his 56 Madden 23 rating, which has some fans screaming but may not be too far off the mark.
Underrated: Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco, the soon-to-be 15-year veteran, showed that he can still get it done. In his lone start of 2021, he threw for 291 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions against the Dolphins in Week 10. The Jets lost a heartbreaker, 24-17.
The team made it a priority to re-sign Flacco at the end of the year, expecting that he would once again compete with White for the primary backup quarterback job.
Given both Flacco’s and White’s most recent showings, it seems likely that Flacco is the favorite to win the competition.
On top of his ability to keep the offense humming in the event of Wilson’s absence, Flacco has a great influence on Zach Wilson.
Wilson has repeatedly praised Flacco for how much he’s learned from the former Super Bowl MVP in the meeting room. It’s obvious the Jets’ brain trust want him around their young passer.
Mike White may be the fan favorite, but Flacco is the Jets’ true QB2.
Overrated: Ty Johnson
Ty Johnson found his way into the spotlight as one of the few bright spots of the 2020 season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry as a rotational piece.
Johnson had only a single game that year with more than 12 carries, and he more than made the most of it.
The former waiver-wire pickup racked up 104 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in Week 13 against the Raiders, the most by any Jet in a single game that season.
However, Johnson has failed to replicate that performance. He hasn’t had any more than 50 yards in a game in any contest since then. Additionally, Johnson’s yards-per-carry dipped from 4.7 to 3.9 in 2021.
With rookie second-rounder Breece Hall now in the fold, it appears Johnson’s roster spot could be in jeopardy.
Underrated: Michael Carter
The aforementioned Hall is most likely to be the lead dog in the Jets’ backfield. However, last year’s rookie phenom, Michael Carter, should still be heavily involved.
Carter led the team in rushing as a rookie with 639 yards on 147 carries while also catching 36 passes for 325 yards, placing him just shy of 1000 yards from scrimmage.
The former Tar Heel quickly adjusted to the speed of the NFL game and became one of the team’s best skill players right away. Despite his smaller frame, he was extremely proficient at breaking tackles, earning more than half of his total rushing yards, 345, after first contact.
The Jets want to have a dominant running game in 2022. They will deploy a committee approach to their backfield to keep back fresh and effective. Make no mistake, Michael Carter will be a vital part of that committee.
Overrated: Corey Davis
Corey Davis was supposed to be the Jets’ new “WR1” after signing a three-year contract worth $37.5 million. His first year in New York did not go as he or the team had planned, though.
Davis struggled with drops and separation early in the year, playing nine games before hip and groin injuries ended his season.
Across those nine games, Davis caught 34 passes for 492 yards and four touchdowns with five drops.
Fans are hoping for a rebound from Davis in year two. Unlike his first year in Green and White, though, Davis now has real competition for the team’s top receiver crown.
Elijah Moore is looking to build off of his promising rookie campaign and appears to be the Jets’ main target in the passing game.
On top of Moore, New York used the 10th overall pick in the 2022 draft on Ohio State wideout Garrett Wilson. They also re-signed Braxton Berrios, who became Zach Wilson’s favorite target after Davis and Moore went down with injuries.
Davis’s price tag suggests he should be the Jets’ No. 1 receiver, but as it currently stands, his role in the offense is unclear.
Underrated: Braxton Berrios
Braxton Berrios became a fan favorite towards the end of the year. The Jets’ WR room was decimated by injuries, and Berrios was forced to take on a more featured role.
Despite the added pressure, Berrios responded in a major way, catching 20 of his season-total 46 passes in his last four games alone. He was incredibly clutch on third down, picking up 12 first downs over that timeframe. He also went the entire year without a single drop.
As good as he was as a receiver, Berrios was even better on special teams.
On kickoffs, Berrios averaged 30.4 yards per return, the best in the entire league. He had a 102-yard return touchdown against the Jaguars, helping to earn first-team All-Pro honors.
Heading into 2022, Berrios should resume his return-man duties. He will also continue to be Zach Wilson’s security blanket in crucial moments and may end up as one of the team’s top three receiving leaders.
Overrated: Jeremy Ruckert
Finding an overrated member of the Jets’ tight end room isn’t easy, as the group will feature almost entirely new players in 2022. Rookie third-round pick Jeremy Ruckert gets the nod not because of his ability on the field, but due to questions about how much time he’ll actually spend on it.
Ruckert missed the majority of the pre-draft process with an ankle injury and will in turn start his first training camp on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list.
With two new veteran free agents, C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, second-year player Kenny Yeboah, and former receiver-turned-tight end Lawrence Cager all part of the group, as well, missing crucial reps in camp could put Ruckert behind the eight-ball.
Considering that his injury kept him from working out in the spring, Ruckert has a long way to go before fans can expect him to be a regular contributor.
Additionally, Ruckert’s game is quite raw. He was not that involved in the passing game at Ohio State, and his blocking needs refinement. The learning curve for a tight end in the NFL is steeper than at other positions.
In time, Jeremy Ruckert will likely become a staple member of the Jets’ offense. But for now, Ruckert’s focus should be on getting healthy.
Underrated: Tyler Conklin
C.J. Uzomah was the Jets’ top free agent tight end target, but landing him didn’t stop the team from also pursuing former Viking Tyler Conklin. Uzomah was the headliner in March, but don’t be surprised if Conklin ends up New York’s TE1 when it’s all said and done.
Conklin had a breakout season for the Vikings in 2021, notching career-highs in catches, yards, and touchdowns. At 6-foot-3 and 248 pounds, Conklin is slightly smaller than most traditional tight ends. What he lacks in size, though, he more than makes up for in speed and effort.
He easily runs by linebackers, leaving them in the dust with crisp cuts in his routes. Meanwhile, he can put those same linebackers in the dirt as a blocker the very next snap.
The Jets offensive scheme is extremely similar to that of the Vikings, meaning Conklin should have a smooth transition to his new system.
With Uzomah, like Ruckert, starting camp on the PUP list, the door is wide open for Tyler Conklin to take the reins of the top tight end spot and never look back.
Overrated: Mekhi Becton
To be clear, I believe Mekhi Becton is, and has always been, doing what he can to get back on the field following his season-ending knee injury midway through Week 1 against the Panthers last year. The “Big Ticket” will be one of the Jets’ two starting tackles, and I expect him to get back to his rookie-year form in 2022.
That said, no other member of New York’s offensive line carries the same level of hype as Becton without the results to match.
Becton hit the ground running as a rookie, stonewalling multiple Pro Bowl pass rushers in his first handful of games. Unfortunately, that hot start cooled off when injuries began piling up, limiting Becton to only 13 starts his rookie year, and only 10 full games played.
Factoring in his lost 2021, Becton has only started and finished 30.3 percent of possible games across his first two years.
2022 will be a make-or-break year for the Louisville product. Not only does Becton need to prove he was worthy of the 11th overall pick in 2020, but he also must prove that he can stay on the field.
Underrated: Max Mitchell
Both of the Jets’ expected starting offensive tackles, Becton and George Fant, are on the PUP list to start camp. With Becton’s aforementioned injury history and last year’s primary backup, Morgan Moses, now in Baltimore, fans are terrified that one injury could derail all hopes of a successful year.
While the Jets’ current tackle depth is a valid concern, the sky is far from falling, and 2022 fourth-rounder Max Mitchell is the main reason why.
Mitchell was flat-out dominant in 2021, earning Sun Belt Offensive-Player-Of-The-Year honors for his performance.
The New York Jets pick Louisiana Tackle Max Mitchell at No. 111 overall.
94.8 PFF grade in 2021 (1st among FBS Tackles) ♨️ pic.twitter.com/uiVhW25nsS
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 30, 2022
The former Ragin’ Cajun is an excellent pass protector, stopping rushers in their tracks with well-timed and well-placed punches, while always staying vigilant for stunts or twists. Mitchell is plenty serviceable in the run game too, quickly firing out of his stance to cut off defenders and open lanes on zone runs.
Best of all, Mitchell possesses an uncanny ability to play on either side of the line at an equally effective level.
Not only did Mitchell alternate between left and right tackle throughout the season, but he would sometimes do so in the middle of the same drive without skipping a beat.
In turn, Mitchell can serve as a primary backup for both Becton and Fant, giving the Jets insurance in the event of an injury to one of their starters.
Fans should hope that Max Mitchell does not play meaningful snaps in 2022. If Mitchell sees significant action as a rookie, though, there is still hope for the season.
Overrated: Sheldon Rankins
The interior of the Jets defensive line is one of the team’s biggest areas of concern entering training camp, and tackle Sheldon Rankins is one of the primary culprits.
Rankins returns for his second season in New York following a disappointing 2021. Playing in 16 games as a rotational piece, Rankins totaled 32 tackles, three sacks, and five tackles for loss.
His sack production was misleading, however, as two of his three sacks came as the result of schemed pressures that left Rankins unblocked. Over the course of the year, Rankins only managed 11 pressures and seven quarterback hits, while playing on average 57 percent of snaps per game.
For comparison, Quinnen Williams had six sacks, 16 pressures, and 12 quarterback hits despite playing one fewer game and roughly the same percentage of snaps as Rankins.
The broader issue, by far, was Rankins’ liability as a run defender.
He was consistently moved at the line of scrimmage, leading to wide open lanes for opposing runners, and posted a 13.5 percent missed-tackle rate.
Rankins is set to once again be a key cog in the Jets’ defensive line rotation. If he doesn’t improve, the rest of the defense will suffer.
Underrated: Bryce Huff
With all of the additions the Jets have made at defensive end, it’s easy to forget about former undrafted free agent Bryce Huff. That would be a mistake.
Injuries limited Huff to only nine games in 2021, but he still flashed plenty of potential as a threat off the edge. Playing an average of 50 percent of snaps per game, Huff totaled two sacks, 11 pressures, and eight quarterback hits.
His overall numbers weren’t that impressive, but to truly understand Huff’s impact, you have to look a little deeper.
It's time for the first win rate plot of the year!
Double-team rate at edge (x) by pass rush win rate at edge (y).
(ESPN / NFL Next Gen Stats) pic.twitter.com/o0Rkt2yh7p
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 5, 2021
Bryce Huff’s lightning-quick first step and gymnast-caliber flexibility make him a tough assignment for most NFL offensive tackles. The Jets may now have other options to rush the passer, but Huff should still be a key piece of the defensive line.
Overrated: C.J. Mosley
C.J. Mosley‘s tenure in New York has been far from ideal.
The former Raven missed all but one half of one game over his first two seasons with the Jets. He lost 2019 to a groin injury, and he opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 was finally supposed to be the year that Mosley proved that he was worth the massive contract he signed in 2019. Early showings were promising, as Mosley appeared to be back to his Pro Bowl form.
BREAKING: #Jets LB CJ Mosley is questionable for Sunday’s game vs Tennessee as the NFL is investigating him for murder on live television
— NYJ MIKE (@NyjMike) September 28, 2021
Unfortunately, age and time away caught up to the eight-year vet, as Mosley increasingly regressed as the year went on.
He was dreadful in pass coverage, allowing 58 catches on 68 targets (an 85.3 percent completion rate) for 525 yards and three touchdowns, without grabbing an interception and only deflecting two passes.
Mosley’s run defense suffered, as well. While he did end the year with a large tackle total (168), he also missed 18 tackles at a below-average 9.7% missed-tackle rate.
Mosley is primed to return as the Jets’ starting MIKE linebacker, and unless he finds the fountain of youth, he may be in for another rough year.
Underrated: Jamien Sherwood
The fact that Jamien Sherwood is even healthy enough to avoid the PUP list is nothing short of incredible.
Sherwood suffered a torn Achilles in Week 6 against New England, ending his rookie year after only five games. Even though most Achilles tears take a year to heal, (see: Lawson, Carl), Sherwood worked his tail off to get back in playing shape and is somehow fully cleared for all activity.
That’s good news for New York, as Sherwood is the presumed heir-apparent to the aforementioned Mosley. If Mosley continues to struggle, Sherwood could be thrust into action earlier than expected.
The former Auburn safety is a brainiac on the field. He quickly diagnoses what offenses are trying to do while keeping the rest of the defense properly aligned.
On top of his brain, Sherwood possesses an even better work ethic, as his former high-school defensive coordinator explained to me after he was drafted.
Sherwood had his fair share of struggles as a rookie, which was to be expected while transitioning from safety to linebacker. But after a year to get comfortable and a clean bill of health, he appears ready to take the next step.
Jamien Sherwood was the first defender drafted by the Jets under Robert Saleh. Don’t be shocked when he soon becomes the leader of Saleh’s defense.
Overrated: Bryce Hall
Yes, you read that correctly. Bryce Hall is the Jets’ most overrated cornerback.
By most indications, Hall had a great year in 2021. He started all 17 games as the Jets’ top corner, deflecting 16 passes and allowing only 7.3 yards per target. For a Jets defense that ranked towards the bottom in almost all metrics, Hall was a rare bright spot.
However, Hall isn’t getting the overrated label for what he did. He’s getting it for what he didn’t do: take the ball away.
Hall didn’t manage a single interception all season despite facing over 100 targets in 2021.
The Jets’ defensive scheme under Robert Saleh is built around pressuring quarterbacks and subsequently capitalizing on mistakes. New York lacked a potent pass rush for most of the year, which no doubt limited Hall’s opportunities for picks. Still, had plenty of chances to take the ball away and failed to do so.
Fans may have been satisfied with Hall’s performance, but the Jets clearly were not. They not only signed free agent D.J. Reed to the tune of $33 million but also used the fourth overall pick in 2022 on Cincinnati cover-man Sauce Gardner.
Both players excel at creating turnovers. Reed has grabbed four interceptions over his last 24 games, and Gardner snatched nine over his 33 games as a Bearcat.
Bryce Hall went from being the consensus top dog in the cornerback room according to fans, to fighting for snaps as a backup and in dime packages. If that doesn’t say overrated, I’m not sure what does.
Underrated: Michael Carter II
Michael Carter II gets the nod not only for taking the slot corner job as a rookie but also for playing well enough to keep it heading into Year 2.
The Jets were extremely aggressive in adding two new outside corners to their secondary but made no new additions in the slot, a sign of confidence in Carter II’s progress.
Carter II played in 15 games in 2021, allowing 7.5 yards per target and only a single touchdown while deflecting five passes. Like Hall, he failed to record an interception, but he did manage to recover two fumbles, and the picks should follow soon enough.
Slot cornerbacks, unlike their outside counterparts, have ample responsibility in run defense. Carter II thrived in that aspect too, notching 45 solo tackles and four tackles for loss. That tackling ability helped the Jets avoid disaster on numerous occasions, as Carter II made a handful of touchdown-saving tackles throughout the year.
Entering his second season, Michael Carter II has the slot cornerback job on lockdown, and I expect him to keep it for a long, long time.
Overrated: Lamarcus Joyner
The Jets signed Lamarcus Joyner to be their starting free safety during the 2021 offseason with the hope that he would bring stability to a shaky back end.
Instead, Joyner suffered a triceps injury in Week 1, ending his season after 11 snaps. The Jets would spend the rest of the year shuffling bodies in and out at free safety, with predictably awful results.
In 2022, New York is once again expecting the soon-to-be 32-year-old Joyner to be their free safety, and that should have fans worried.
Joyner joined the Jets after two disappointing years with the Raiders, primarily playing cornerback instead of safety. The Jets assumed that Joyner would see a rebound while moving back to his more natural safety spot, and signed the vet to a one-year deal.
For the second year in a row, the Jets are putting all of their eggs into Joyner’s basket and are banking on him not only getting back to form but, more importantly, staying healthy.
The problem is, staying healthy isn’t Joyner’s strong suit.
Joyner has only ever played a full season’s worth of games once in his eight-year career, 2015, his second year in the league.
In the likely event that Joyner gets hurt again, the Jets will be right back at square one. They’ll throw various players into the free safety role and pray someone sticks. Even if Joyner does stay healthy, there’s no guarantee that he will be effective given his age and most recent play.
Casual fans laud Joyner off of name recognition alone, but right now he’s nothing more than a liability.
Underrated: Jordan Whitehead
The Jets’ safety room as a whole was a nightmare in 2021, so finding an underrated member of the group was basically impossible.
I turned instead to the newest face in the group, former Buccaneer and cousin of Jets great Darrelle Revis, Jordan Whitehead.
Whitehead will be the Jets’ starting strong safety and should make a major impact in both run and pass defense.
He was fantastic in coverage statistically in 2021, allowing 308 total yards at 5.4 yards per target, snatched two picks, and not allowing a single touchdown. When targeting Whitehead, opposing quarterbacks managed a combined passer rating of 62.6.
In the run game, Whitehead had 73 total tackles, five tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. Going beyond the stats, Whitehead was often times the primary force player for Tampa, the player tasked with staying outside and “forcing” runners back towards the middle of the defense.
Whitehead made plenty of plays in run defense that were crucial but did not show up on the stat sheet, since he wasn’t the one making the tackle.
Whitehead is a heat-seeking missile on the field, running full-speed into ball carriers or blockers with reckless abandon. That aggressiveness led to Whitehead’s only major weakness in 2021, missed tackles. He had 11 total missed tackles on the year, giving him a less-than-ideal 13.1 percent missed-tackle rate.
If Jordan Whitehead can clean up his missed tackles, he should soon cement himself as one of the best young safeties in the game. Jets fans have high hopes for the 25-year-old, but he could be even better than they imagined.